The length of our days is seventy years--or eighty if we are strong--yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
I. THE AGED ARE PUT ASIDE FROM THE ACTIVITIES OF LIFE. Life goes past them: opinions change; customs change; business is changed. The old man no longer fits; he must stand aside; if he persists in keeping his place, he ruins his business, and worries everybody. It is hard to have to live on into a time when we shall no longer be of any use.
II. THE AGED MUST BEAR THE BURDEN OF FAILING POWERS. See the description of old age in Ecclesiastes. See the force of the terms "labour" and "sorrow" in the text. The necessary weakening of the bodily faculties is accompanied - save in very extreme cases - with corresponding failing of mental powers, and a trying limitation of human interests. The old man ceases to belong to his day, and lives over again his childish years. Sometimes aged helplessness, with disease, is most pitiful.
III. THE AGED SOMETIMES HAVE TO BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SINS OF YOUTH. All sins of sensuality and self-indulgence carry their inevitable penalties; and if the pressure of them be delayed by a well regulated manhood, they come on a man with a rush when the vitality is lowered by advancing age. A man bears "the sins of youth in the bones of old."
IV. THE AGED OFTEN FIND THEIR HEAVIEST TROUBLE TO BE THE LONELINESS IN WHICH THEY ARE LEFT. He who has had troops of friends dies at last tended by the hireling. Loved ones die away or remove out of reach. The old man often says, as did the Revelation William Jay, of Bath, in his advanced years, "My burying ground is richer than my church." To sensitive, affectionate souls, aged loneliness must be the supreme woe. Wife, children, friends, gone on before. How the old man must say to himself continually -
"What is my nest to me? - my empty nest?" V. THE AGED SOMETIMES HAVE TO BEAR DISTRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES AS WELL AS BODILY FRAILTY. To live on means exhausting the savings; to be unable to earn; to have none to work for us. But life is in the Lord's hands, not ours. "If life be long, we will be glad, that we can long obey." - R.T.
V. THE AGED SOMETIMES HAVE TO BEAR DISTRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES AS WELL AS BODILY FRAILTY. To live on means exhausting the savings; to be unable to earn; to have none to work for us. But life is in the Lord's hands, not ours. "If life be long, we will be glad, that we can long obey." - R.T.
I. EXPLANATORY REMARKS.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten.
Homiletic Monthly.I. LIFE'S EARTHLY LIMIT. "Threescore years and ten."
1. How long when viewed in the light of time — when compared with the common lot of mankind.
2. How short when viewed in the light of eternity.
II. LIFE'S COMMON HERITAGE. "Yet is their strength labour and sorrow."
1. Life even at its best estate is made up largely of labour and sorrow, of working and weeping.
2. Thank God for the labour and the sorrow, for they help us to rise to higher things. "Before I was afflicted," etc.
III. LIFE'S FINAL TRANSITION. "We fly away."
1. Happy transition for the Christian. The restraints of this cage life are ended.
2. Hopeless transition for the Christless.
Homiletic Monthly.I. GOD HAS DIVINELY APPOINTED THAT LIFE SHALL BE MEASURED BY DIVISIONS OF TIME. Day and night, spring, summer, autumn and winter are God's way of distributing time. Each division is big with suggestions to us for whom the divisions were made.
1. It is a beneficent arrangement. The changes from the brightness of noonday to the blackness of midnight, from spring's sunshine and flowers to autumn's shadows and yellow leaves, from summer's heat to winter's frost, are voices whose emphasis and pathos are ever uttering grand yet awful lessons about mortality and death.
2. The arrangement furnishes symbols of our lifetime. Spring paints our childhood, summer our manhood, autumn old age, and winter death. Each year is an epitome of life.
II. LIFE IS MEASURED BY YEARS BECAUSE OF ITS BREVITY.
III. LIFE MUST BE MEASURED BY YEARS BECAUSE OF ITS WORTH. Each year is dealt out to us in particles because of the preciousness of time. The possibilities that lie in every year, for good or evil, are prodigious.
IV. LIFE MUST BE MEASURED BY DIVISIONS OF TIME BECAUSE OF ITS IMPERCEPTIBLE DEPARTURE. It ebbs from us with every breath. We never had less of it than we begin this new year with. All the past is spent. Whether it has been squandered or well laid out, it is gone, and it went almost imperceptibly.
1. Consider threescore years and ten, or fourscore years, as the limit beyond which the life of man doth not pass. The folly which leads men to expect to live a hundred years, because one individual may have reached them, is like that which encourages them to expect mercy in their last hour, because the thief on the cross obtained it. It hath the worst effects on life, and produces the bitterest feelings of disappointment and regret in death.(1) If we attend to the situation of the wicked, we will perceive the wisdom of this limitation of life. Seventy or eighty years are surely a sufficient space for the exercise of the Divine patience with them, and for proving what is in their hearts, whether they will keep His commandments or no.(2) To the righteous, life is a state of manifold temptations, and as God doth not afflict willingly, He will not subject them longer to these than He sees it necessary for the trial of their graces.
2. Consider that the limits of human life which are here specified are reached by few. Death commonly selects for its victims life at its best, and man in his prime. It becomes us, therefore, to say, "I will use the world as if I were soon to leave it; I will live with my friends as if I were soon to part with them; I will discharge my duty as becomes one who expects soon to give in his account."
3. The protracting of life to the limits here specified is not in itself desirable. the strength of such old men is labour and sorrow.(1) In consequence of the decline of their faculties, the aged are unfit for labour; and when they do apply themselves to it, they are soon obliged to desist. To them the grasshopper is a burden.(2) Mental application is oppressive to them likewise. It is a toil to them to read, and what they do read is quickly forgotten.(3) The languor and the wandering of their minds in religious duty distresses them. The affections which were once so active and fervent, now move slowly and reluctantly: and when they contrast their present with their past condition, it fills them with the painful apprehension that the Spirit of God hath abandoned them, and that they have lost what God hath wrought.
4. When life is come to these limits, its extinction may be hourly expected. It becomes the aged to submit to death without murmuring. It is your duty to be ready for your departure, and to employ every moment that remains in cultivating the spirit of the world to which you are going.
1. To those who have arrived, or are on the point of arriving, at these limits.(1) Think on the many opportunities you have had of promoting the Divine glory in comparison of others; and remember, that to whom much is given, of them also shall much be required.(2) Remember that if you are strangers to Christ, your saving acquaintance with Him must be now or never.
2. To those who are yet at a distance from these limits of human life.(1) Let those who are far advanced in years be the object of your pity and of your kind attentions. Encourage them in their labour, and cheer them in their sorrow.(2) Acquaint now yourselves with God; and if your days shall be shortened, grace shall conduct you more speedily to eternal life; and should they be prolonged for fourscore years, it will support and comfort you amidst the labour and sorrow of the season of decay.(3) Consider the diseases and afflictions which may be sent to you in the early seasons of life, as intended to remind you that death is at hand, and to induce you to submit to it cheerfully.
(H. Belfrage, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)God, and O, mystery of love, He stands between me and Himself; for He, too, is Judge, and the sentence of life and death is upon His lips. He knows my days — He comforts me with many a promise.
(J. Parker, D.D.)
And if by reason of1. From the ordinary weaknesses of the body. Very few are permitted to carry with them down into the vale of years the vigour of youth. The muscles lose their elasticity, the eye grows dim, the ear is dull of hearing, and the whole body bends toward the grave.
2. From decay of the mental energies. The power of thought, of reflection, of association, and of reasoning, the power of recollection and of memory, seem all to partake of the same weakness as do the powers of the body.
3. From depression of animal spirits. The mind that has been active, and has commanded attention and respect, cannot, without some degree of pain, see itself neglected, and sinking into comparative disesteem. Hence we cannot wonder if we see crossing the cheek, furrowed with age, the tear of melancholy.
4. From loss of companions. He stands like a tree which was once in the bosom of a forest, but now is left to feel the full weight of every storm, while the associates of his youth, whose united energies would obtrude the blast, have all perished; and his decaying boughs too strongly indicate that he must soon yield the soil to a later growth, and permit the winds of heaven to pass unobstructed.
5. From the impression that every step is upon the margin of the grave. Every pang he feels reminds him that his grave will soon be ready. So tardy flows the stream of life as to assure him that soon the heart will beat no longer.
(D. A. Clark.)
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